Wham! Bam! Islam!

Wham! Bam! Islam!

  • BY Isaac Solotaroff | IN Arts & Culture
    Premiered October 13, 2011

About the Film

In 2003, Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa — Kuwaiti psychologist, graduate of Columbia Business School and father of four young boys — had an idea: create a comic book series with roots in Islam and Islamic culture. Al-Mutawa came up with the concept of THE 99: a team of superheroes, each one exemplifying one of the 99 attributes of Allah. His motivations were both entrepreneurial and idealistic — THE 99 would exemplify the Islamic virtues of compassion, understanding, and tolerance – qualities not often associated with Islam by the West. Within the Islamic world, Al-Mutawa hoped these new role models would counter the growing tide of political and religious extremism. MORE

As a business, it was a daunting task — comics were relatively unknown in the Arab market and those that existed were all Western imports. Al-Mutawa managed to raise $7 million in initial capital from 54 investors across four continents and brought together a team of comic book veterans to create THE 99. The first issue was released during Ramadan 2006 and although it enjoyed widespread critical success, THE 99 immediately came under suspicion from religious leaders. The comic was banned in Saudi Arabia and there were threats of a fatwa forbidding THE 99. As Al-Mutawa battles the cultural gatekeepers (both anointed and self-anointed) to a draw Al-Mutawa becomes a forceful advocate for an Islam based on open-mindedness and individual thought.

However, Al-Mutawa faces an even more vexing nemesis: the global marketplace. With the comic missing its projected sales numbers in the Middle East, Al-Mutawa turns to theme parks and animation with the hopes that through these more lucrative platforms he may save his fledgling superhero property. Realizing that THE 99 will not survive if focused solely on the Middle East, Al-Mutawa must now target an international and predominately non-Muslim market. However, in doing so, is Al-Mutawa abandoning the underlying social principles for creating THE 99 to make it financially viable?

The Filmmaker

Isaac Solotaroff is a documentary producer and editor who has been nominated for an Emmy Award and received a special commendation from the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences. His films include Visioning Tibet, Los Romeros, and Belief Amended, Faith Revealed.



Film Credits

A Film by
Isaac Solotoroff

Motion Graphics
Spek Studios

Mary Manhardt
Isaac Solotaroff

Katharyn Bond Marquez
Tigerlily Films

Associate Producer
Josh Kahn


Juan Carlos Borrero
Andres Santamaria
Mark French
Isaac Solotaroff

Additional Camera
Ross Finkel
Trevor Martin
Laura Murray
Misha Stawnychy
Alexander Rupprecht
Herry Kartarahardja

Unit Produer in Kuwait
Mohammed Madi

Animation Creative Director
Reno Msad

Lead Animator
Rene Avalos

Chris Monaco
Federico Rojas Lavado

Animation Illustrator
Edwin Huang
Joseph Martin
Ciro Romero

Animation Colorist
John Ofori
Narek Gevorgyan

Animation Assistant
Fernando Reyes
Chris DeJesus
Alice Medrano

Animation Project Coordinator
Camilla Wycoco

Music Supervisor
Suzanne Hilleary-Cameron

On-line Editor
Don Wyllie

Supervising Sound Editor
Benny Mouthon

Sound Editor
Brian Bracken

Music Credits

"Jimmy Hafla"
"Electric Brain Play"
"Double Doom Drum Solo"
"Laylia 2.0 Drum Solo"
"Nihavent Longa- traditional"
Performed by Djinn

Performed by Wissam Murad

"Shifting Mirage"
"Urban Mistake"
Performed by Paul Myer Hopkins and Amanda Lee Falkenberg

"Pretty Baby"
Performed by Raquy and the Cavemen

Performed by Steve Booke

Music Courtesy of

Archival Research
Jessica Berman-Bogdan

Ahmad Diab
Yasser Darwish
Immanuel Eltanyan

Production Assistants
Linsay Kreuzer
Samuel Heiserman

Post Production Facilities
Radical Avid
String and Can

Mitchell Sillber & Knupf
Clearence Unlimited

CBIZ Insurance Services, Inc.
Momentous Insurance Brokerage, Inc.

Special Thanks

Adel Abdulaziz
Saad Al-ajmi
Rucker Alex
Enas Al-farra
Mai AlJishi
Fahad Al-Mutawa
Rola Al-Mutawa
Amir Amirani
Julie Ashkenzi
Uzi Ashkenzi
Scott Atran
Ronit Avni
Rawda Awwad
Subniv Babuta
Alex Bhattachrji
Laurence Billiet
Saad Bitar
Ghislain Boulanger
Yoni Brook
Dan Callister
Gala Carr
Oye Carr
Danielle Carr-Tully
Bill Chayes
Noam Christopher
Karen Cirillo
Lyell Davies
Mona Davis
David Dawkins
Ken Dornstein
Angus Durocher
Kate Durocher
Larry Durocher
Jamie Etheridge
Falah Al Falah
Katherine Farrell
Josh Fouts
Fadi Ghandour
Leah Giblin
Jeff Gomez
Josh Green
Peter Griffiths
Malachi Handler
Matt Hamachek
Ryan Harrington
Pat Harrison
Arthur Heiserman
Kate Heiserman
Atessa Hoomani
Alex Israel
Charles Kadushin
Matthew Kadushin
Darren Kane
Yudha Kartohadiprodjo
Kiran Khalid
Riz Khan
Rita King
Ilyana Kuziemko
Trinity Laurino
Monica Lam
Michael Lieberman
Alec Marabella
Gordan Meeker
Dan Meisel
Michael Morgenstern
Susan Motamed
Tamir Muhammed
Hanan Muzzaffar
Fabian Nicieza
Ali Obtel
Steve Opson
David Orr
Leonard Orr
Emma Parsons
Michael Paszt
Richard Peña
Mark Pensaville
Hugo Perez
James Piecowye
Basma Rayess
Lauren Redniss
David Ritsher
Shanna Rose
Louise Rosette
Nadia Roumani
Amy Rubin
Nicole Salzano
Sanraa Media
Jim Santo
Alan Schissel
Cynthia P. Schneider
Frankie Shum
David Slater
Larry Smith
David Solomon
Anisha Solomon-Parsons
Sunita Solomon-Parsons
Maura Spiegel
Robert Sprague
Sukumar Subramanian
Anna Swank
Musa Syeed
Eyob Tadele-Manhardt
David Valdez
Holly Walker
Andy Ward
Amy Louise Weller
Alesia Weston
Sigit Widodo
Brant Wong
Jane Worthington
Anne Yao

Dedicated to Ted Solotaroff and Lori Durocher

Funding Provided by
Rami Alturki

This program is a co-production of Endeavor Films, LLC,
and the Independent Television Service (ITVS),
with major funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CBP).

This program was produced by Endeavor Films, LLC, which is solely responsible for its content.

© 2010 Endeavor Films, LLC. All rights reserved.

Did you know that the classic “Archie” comic book series was published in the late 1970s by Spire Christian Comics as a means of instilling Christian values in young people? Do you think comics are a good way to convey religious values to youth?
Did you know that the classic “Archie” comic book series was published in the late 1970s by Spire Christian Comics as a means of instilling Christian values in young people? Do you think comics are a good way to convey religious values to youth?